Tuesday, December 30, 2008

B-29 Crash Site on Mount Tapochao, Saipan.

On December 26, Boxing Day, fine weather, and the need for exercise determined another hike to the popular B-29 crash site was in order. A 30 minute hike with a few detours took us on site.
The B-29 crashed on the west side of Mount Tapochao during the night of August 27, 1945, just 12 days after hostilities ceased in the Pacific. The B-29 was returning from a POW supply support mission after picking up cargo parachutes at Florida Blanca Air Field in the Phillipines. The crash occurred during a second approach to Isley Field on Saipan. The first landing attempt was aborted due to night instrument problems, bad visibility, and stormy conditions. Sadly, there were no survivors among the 10 crew members. Observations show visitors to the site have given respect and left the site intact. Crew member list and additional information can be researched on websites http://www.20thaf.org/ and www.315bw.org/memoriam.htm

The B-29 was a model B-29B-45-BA built at the Bell-Atlanta aircraft plant. It was registered as # 44-83899 and assigned to the 20th Air Force, 402nd Bomb Squadron, 502nd Bomb Group, 315th Bomb Wing.

The debris field is extensive with parts strewn over a large area indicating a high speed impact. This could be part of the air injection supercharger from one the engines. It is truly amazing how a number of parts show little corrosion after 63 years in a tropical environment.

We located only two of the engines on this hike. According to the plane specifications the four engines are noted as Wright Cyclone R-3350-23 with 2,200 horsepower per engine. The props are sixteen feet eight inches in diameter. Note the yellow paint still visible on the prop tips.

The motley hiking crew on site.

Other visitors to the site mentioned a third engine and a tail machine gun turret in the area.

Not sure what this item is. Originally thought it could be landing gear tires. Archive photos show the B-29 had three sets of landing gear with only 2 wheels each.

The 18 cylinder heads on this engine have turned into a solid block of corroded aluminum .

Close up of 1945 era version of "aircraft lock tight fittings" on the engines!


Anonymous said...

What you call the landing gear tires are actually the brakes. The picture is of one of the main gear. Each one had two tires with brakes on the inboard and outboard side.

waterworks said...

Thanks for the interesting info. Have you hiked into the site?